My Ratio is Off. Is Yours?

Photo by Meanest Indian

My ratio is off. And I’m not talking about the 34-26-34 measurements that rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot  made so famous (though I could very well be but that’s another blog post for another time) . I’m talking about my positivity ratio.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a woman who has spent twenty years researching the effect of thinking positively. She says that a 3:1 ratio is what we all should strive for in order to tap into our creative, resilient selves. Fredrickson isn’t talking about adding an orphan Annie -the-sun-will-come-out-tomorrow varnish to our day to day. She means that our emotions are powerful barometers in how we think about ourselves and others. “People who are languishing in life can move to flourishing,” she says, if we would tip our emotions over from negative to positive.

I’ve released four e-books in the past five months while juggling a teaching career and mothering responsibilities.  I’ve changed careers (not just jobs) four times in the last six years. You’d think flourishing was something I had the cornered the market on. But taking the free quiz on the Positivity Ratio website, I found my ration was 1.83.

1. As in one. ONE. My negativity score was 6. As in six. SIX. This essentially means my mental habits are keeping me from being the person I could be. Fredrickson says positivity affects how we interact with others: how close we feel to them, how open we are, how fulfilled we can be in relationships.

I knew, at the core while I was answering the questions, that I was being hard on myself and on my day. The things that went well felt good, but only for the briefest flicker. The rest, any little rebuff or irritation, loomed larger than life or in any case, the positives.

Photo by JD Hancock

In order to be a creative person, you have to have faith not only in your work but yourself. Stumbling across this book opened my eyes to something I said to a friend today.

“Your mind is like a fortress but in your case the enemy is inside. So there is no need to wage battle against you. Because the person inside will go open the door and let the intruders in.”

May seem like a weird insight, but it fit the conversation at the time. And now those words are for me. And you.

If you are trying to write, or paint, or make music, what is it that holds you back? Is it really writer’s block? Or is a crisis of faith of a kind, a slow eating away at the goal you have from the inside of your own mind?

I’m resolved to not only focus on the positive, but let it have it’s own weight when it goes on the scales of my mind. I’m hoping to tip over into positivity. And that this will show up as I go into yet another rewrite of my first novel. A manuscript that recently I realized was a mess. Instead of picking apart everything wrong with it, I’m going to try to work from the strengths.

What about you? What can you use a tip-over on? Writing, motivation, love?

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Reader Comments

  1. Sarah koblow

    The great thing about resilience ,just like optomism , both can be learned. Julia Cameron in her brilliant book the artists way will help with any creative block whatever your creative medium writing. She says faith= jump and the net will appear. I particularly like a definition I saw in the blog of a renown psychologist j simens who has written a book called emotional resilience and the expat child. You know you are being resilient when you stop striving for the perfect day n celebrate more often that today was really ok and I did manage just fine.

    • Mohanalakshmi

      So important that we know we can change our perspectives and adjust them. Being too hard on yourself doesn’t do anyone good – least of all poor you! I love THE ARTIST’S WAY and such a good reminder that yes, do first, and then things will come together. As the saying goes, God can guide a moving ship faster than one that stands still.

  2. RachelintheOC

    I loved this post, for many reasons. I joke a lot about happiness — as you know, I’m the “Queen of Snark” so I have a reputation to uphold and all. 🙂 But my point, to go along with your comments, is to go off on another tangent altogether.

    I’ve been listening to my fav Madonna song most of today which is JUMP — which is all about empowerment, just going for it and not worrying about the consequences later. Complacency is the death of all of us.

    Are you ready?

    • Mohanalakshmi

      Yes, complacency is death. But so many people are honed in on that, you need a group of people to swim upstream with against that current. Madonna, bad redheads, come all takers who want to up their ratio!

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